News as of the 4th August 2011… There has been reports of that the road leading to the car park at Pagham Spit has been close due to a disagreement between residents and the council.. Airhead has been informed that cars maybe clamped. If you use this area please keep this in mind when parking.

Read on for more info on the area:

This information has come to the attention of Airhead please make sure you read it… The place in question is near Bognor Regis in West Sussex.. You can find out more at WSCC Pagham Harbour or British Kitesurfing Association

Pagham harbour Local Nature Reserve, West Sussex holds most top national and international designations and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, being protected by various wildlife legislation. It is especially famous for birdlife.

In recent years it has become attractive to Kitesurfers who use the sea at the harbour entrance, but often access the Reserve via a private unadopted road (Harbour Rd) and then park in the free car park owned by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) who manage the reserve.

Pagham Harbour

Windsurfers also use this, but there seems to now be an increasing problem with Kitesurfers. Whilst not objecting to their use of the car park, recently some problems have become apparent, which I will explain:-

1. The Kitesurfers often set up their equipment in the car park (instead of on the shoreline) and then drag their equipment across an expanse of vegetated shingle (specially protected habitat) causing some damage/disruption – this is worse when the users also test out the equipment on the shingle before heading for the beach.
2. When using the beach to test the Kite, or when using it on the sea in the harbourmouth, the large Kites could cause panic to some roosting or breeding birds. This is particularly critical at this time of year – see point 3.
3. In the last few years, a few pairs of a rare and declining seabird, the Little Tern (Sterna albifrons) have started to nest on the shingle around the harbourmouth entrance. By law these birds are specially protected and wilful disturbance can attract a very large fine. There are also bylaws which prevent disturbance to wildlife, and also prohibit the flying of Kites within the reserve.

Pagham Harbour

My role includes the enforcement of legislation in these circumstances; however as I indicated I am hoping that we can reach a reasonable understanding without the need for legal action, now that the situation has been made clear. I would there ask you to contact your membership as soon as possible to advise. Whilst I understand the reasons for the use of the site, I would request the following:-

i) Kitesurfers stay well out to sea in this area and do not approach the harbour mouth during the breeding season (the young birds should fledge by about late July). Under no circumstances should surfers land on Church Norton spit (except emergency) or enter the protected zone.
ii) Kitesurfers do not drag their assembled equipment across the shingle, but set up at the shoreline.
iii) Surfers must bear in mind that their Kites are a disturbance factor, often visually threatening to birdlife, and so should do all possible to minimise this by staying further out to sea.

I wish to be realistic and so seek co-operation on all sides at this important time in the Reserve year. I would be grateful for your assistance,and in case of query I can be contacted at the reserve Visitor centre – tel 01243 641508 (or leave a message). In my absence the Reserve managers Rob Carver or Ivan Lang, can assist.
I thank you in anticipation,

Owen Mitchell (WSCC enforcement/liaison).

Check out other posts on the Airhead Blog about Pagham Harbour

Please make sure you understand the rules of this area to avoid loosing the use of Pagham Beach for your sports… Airhead bringing you the news on your sports


  1. Airhead
    June 4, 2009 at 17:33

    This issue is of major concern, it may also affect West Beach in the near future. West Beach is near Clymping and Littlehampton…

    This is from Arun District Councils web site “Climping Beach Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which has national protection. It includes:-sand flats, the tide line, shingle, sand dunes and the plants, birds, molluscs, reptiles and mammals which either live or feed on them.”

    If you are unsure please check with Arun District Council.

    Please make sure this summer you respect the beach it’s wild life and other users

  2. Airhead
    June 4, 2009 at 19:26

    There is a piece on Pagham and West Beach / Clymping on the front page of this weeks Littlehampton Gazette regarding sea defences which is interesting….

    Read about it at the Littlehampton Gazette

  3. Airhead
    June 11, 2009 at 15:32

    Things are still heating up over Climping and West Beach… MP’s are called to action over flood risk for Climping homes.

    More news at the Littlehampton Gazette

  4. carl
    June 15, 2009 at 00:33

    “Please make sure you understand the rules of this area to avoid loosing the use of Pagham Beach for your sports”
    The loss of this site is already underway. Revisions to the byelaws, which include the following prohibitions, are currently being considered by DEFRA:

    “(xvi) Within the Harbour or Pagham Lagoon as marked in light and dark blue on the attached map, the following are not permitted: Water skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, kitesurfing (on land or water)…..”
    Setting up and transportation of kitesurfing equipment any where within the nature reserve boundaries, including the area marked in green on the attached map.”
    The green areas are Pagham Spit and Church Norton Spit. The carpark is within the Reserve.

    These (and other) revisions were put to DEFRA by West Sussex County Council in March 2008.
    The plan to prohibit kitesurfing was explained thus:”For example the increasing popularity of kite surfing is damaging to rare and fragile coastal habitats, interferes with wildlife using the Harbour and is hazardous to other site users (there have been a number of collisions with members of the public on Pagham Spit and Pagham beach). Kite surfers know the Reserve as an especially good location and pressure from this sport can only increase if it is not prohibited through the byelaws”.

    DEFRA’s guidelines suggest that consultation with those affected should take place first, & that byelaws should only be considered if a voluntary arrangement has been tried and failed. Objections were invited last March, and these have delayed the process. (It may not be too late to write in, even though the deadline has passed, it could be worth a try)

    Check out this link: PDF

    It may be worth contacting DEFRA to see if a voluntary code of conduct can be agreed, instead of a byelaw banning kitesurfing altogether.

    If you want to take it up with DEFRA then have a look at these guidelines:
    DEFRA wildlife pdf – protected-areas byelaw.pdf
    See s.20 for DEFRA contact details.

  5. Airhead
    June 17, 2009 at 11:10

    I seems that interested parties are progressing with the problems at Pagham and the surrounding area… will post more news as we get it… watch this space.

  6. carribean blue
    June 18, 2009 at 21:28

    You guys are not alone, there has been a long history of upsetting the locals, when they just want to enjoy themselves. Some seem to be fighting back now!

    There is a rather long report (in Sidlesham Parish Council minutes), but it makes very interesting reading, and it is a potted history of how the bird spotters have tried to rule the roost (pun deliberately intended!) Sidlesham Parish Council

    I am an old git with a boat, I know the coast from Littlehampton to Portsmouth, fairly well. There are very few restrictions, when it comes to the use of the sea, long may it remain so, it is one of our last few freedoms.

  7. carl
    June 26, 2009 at 14:22

    Not surprising that the local yokels are upset. I found a bit in the local wrag from March 2008 : see Chichester New No Go Zone Bylaws
    It looks like the byelaws are a done deal from the report, gauranteed to upset others too (cyclists are not flavour of the month either), and it mentions kitesurfing in the same breath as jetskiing!
    It does say that the Reserve is a refuge for wildlife and “PEOPLE”. That suggests that co-existence is possible, – just needs people to be sensible.
    Good that the dog owners have to clear up – so long as they dont just place the steaming pile in a bag, and chuck it on the beach!